Few movies are anticipated more than a sequel to a monster hit. Unfortunately, with great expectations usually comes great disappointment. And so it is with all of these movies, none of which lived up to the promise of the original, and some of which were so bad that they destroyed the entire franchise. Not all of these are horrible movies, though. Some were just the unfortunate victims of a runaway hype train. But whether they were truly wretched or just the Fredo Corleone of their family, the one thing they all have in common is that they are one of the 50 most disappointing movie sequels of all time.
50 ‘The Hangover Part III’
It was only a matter of time before the whole thing got old and tired, so it’s not like people didn’t see this one coming. And yet, it still managed to disappoint, largely because it wasn’t just old and tired but lying dead on a stone slab in a morgue. This was the point in the franchise when the party finally died, the sun came up, and everyone remembered that hangovers actually suck.
49 ‘Back to the Future Part II’
This one is not a bad movie, but the first Back to the Future was so magical that anything that tried to follow was bound to disappoint at least a little. It probably didn’t help that the mood was just relentlessly bleak, and that all the timeline nonsense overshadowed everything that made the first film pop. It might be a more interesting movie from a purely sci-fi standpoint, but let’s face it, the Back to the Future franchise was never really about sci-fi. Sorry, Doc.
48 ‘Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls’
The first Ace Ventura took everybody by surprise and made Jim Carrey an instant star. In short, it benefited from having no expectations whatsoever. Unfortunately, its sequel was just the opposite. Because the first film was so beloved – and because Jim Carrey was at the height of his stardom – people got themselves just a tad overhyped. By the time the movie was over, people just wanted Carrey to shut the hell up for a while.
47 ‘Superman IV’
The only reason this isn’t ranked even higher is because Superman III was itself such a disappointment, and so people were already leery about what was to come. And yet, Superman IV came along looking suspiciously similar to a direct to video budgeted movie, and was so lousy that it effectively destroyed the franchise. This one is just sad, like being let down by an alcoholic father even though you should have known better.
46 ‘Ghostbusters II’
Like Back to the Future Part II, this movie suffered because it was almost impossible to follow up the original, which is basically a perfect movie. Of course, disappointment is bound to be the word of the day when your movie features a river of slime as the main threat, a scene in which the Statue of Liberty is animated by “good slime,” and a bad guy who lives in a painting.
45 ‘X-Men Origins: Wolverine’
Okay, so technically it’s either a spinoff or a prequel, but since it followed right on the heels of X-Men: The Last Stand, we’re counting it as a sequel. And unfortunately, it disappointed, especially since Wolverine has always been the one X-Man who made the fanboys cream their already crusted over jeans. They were hyped about this one, and instead they got an emo story that never really caught fire.
44 ‘Next Friday’
Friday is a much beloved cult hit and so, naturally, it was decided that the only thing to do was to shamelessly exploit its success with a pointless sequel. Right away, you had to know things were not looking good when Chris Tucker – who really made the first movie – was replaced by Mike Epps, and yet people still let themselves get up for this. One of the first signs that Ice Cube had become less N.W.A. and more future TBS star.
43 ‘Terminator Salvation’
Sure, Arnold wasn’t going to be the star, but for the first time we were going to get a whole movie that took place after Armageddon, and perhaps most importantly, starred Christian Bale as the grown up, badass version of John Connor. Instead, we got a movie that was mostly about the emoish journey of a part-human, part-robot dude played by Sam Worthington. This should have been so hard to screw up, and yet, they managed.
42 ‘Licence to Kill’
Timothy Dalton’s first attempt at being James Bond, The Living Daylights, didn’t really go that well, but at least it still felt like a Bond movie. Licence to Kill, on the other hand, felt more like an extended episode of Miami Vice, and was so disappointing that it almost killed the franchise entirely. Bond would disappear for six long years before being resurrected by Pierce Brosnan.
41 ‘Halloween III: Season of the Witch’
Look, if you’re going to make a Halloween sequel, it has to have Michael Myers as the bad guy. That’s just common sense. But the creators of this turd decided for some idiotic reason to leave him completely out of this sequel and make the bad guy be, uh, an insane toy maker. Great for anyone who ever fantasized about Santa Claus losing his shit, I guess, but disappointing for everybody else.
40 ‘Teen Wolf Too’
I know, let’s make a completely unnecessary sequel to Teen Wolf, only it won’t star Michael J. Fox and the main character will be a boxer, and… cue everybody walking out of the theater before the end of the opening credits. Then again, it’s still somehow not as irritating as the MTV series “inspired” by the original film.
39 ‘Butch and Sundance: The Early Days’
This prequel never really had a chance, but still, the curiosity factor alone meant that people would want to see it. After all, the first movie is so iconic, and the characters so beloved, that at the very least, you’d figure that it would be kind of entertaining. Instead, it just feels depressing, and Tom Berenger and William Katt are crushed under the weight of the performances in the first film by Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It feels like you’re watching school kids perform Hamlet right after seeing it done by Sir Laurence Olivier.
38 ‘Battle Royale II’
The original Battle Royale is already a classic, a smart, cool thriller with a sharp satirical streak. This movie, on the other hand, is just exploitative crap. Gone are any of the elements that made the first movie unique, and in their place is mindless violence coupled with an extraordinarily hamfisted attempt at being bold and subversive, which just falls flat and feels more like the Tumblr like ravings of a disaffected 14 year-old.
37 ‘Highlander II: The Quickening’
The first film is a cult classic, but since it ended with Connor MacLeod winning the prize, there really wasn’t anywhere to go with a sequel. So right away, people had to know this was going to be a bit dicey. And yet, even up against those trepidations, this movie managed to be a huge disappointment. Of course, it didn’t help that it was set in the future or that the immortals were suddenly now an alien race. Oh well, at least they learned their lesson and didn’t make any more ill-advised sequels. Oh. Oh, I see.
36 ‘The Amityville Curse’
The horror genre is filled with horrible, pointless sequels that just trade on the name of the original hit in order to push some mostly unrelated crap into the theaters, and perhaps no film is more emblematic of this than The Amityville Curse. It’s just a lame, formulaic haunted house movie, and anyone who got themselves all hyped up because they loved the original, The Amityville Horror, were just setting themselves up for disappointment. There are Scooby-Doo episodes that are more interesting than this.
35 ‘Grease 2’
Okay, so the first Grease is completely ridiculous and annoying and all that nonsense, but you can’t deny that people love it. This movie, on the other hand, is completely ridiculous and annoying, but nobody loves it. It’s just crap, the difference between a hipster dressing like a hobo and an actual hobo. Even John Travolta was above this nonsense. John Travolta!
34 ‘Blues Brothers 2000’
To be fair, nobody was expecting a lot when this movie inexplicably came out almost 20 years after the original, and a solid decade and a half after John Belushi’s heart exploded from a speedball. And yet, even against those modest expectations, this movie managed to disappoint. It’s just… irritating is probably the right word for it, and in order to replace the irreplaceable Belushi, they had to bring in multiple characters, led by John Goodman, who should know better. The worst of the new Blues Brothers, though, is an annoying little kid, which… I can’t even go on.
33 ‘Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf’
Come on, really? The first movie was a legitimately good horror movie, this one is… well, the subtitle is “Your Sister Is a Werewolf.” Enough said.
32 ‘Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd’
Oh God, why? Again, this is one of those movies nobody was really expecting anything from, and despite all that, it still managed to disappoint. That is because it is horrible, horrible and unfunny, and will just make you depressed and angry that someone out there had the temerity to even try to make this happen.
31 ‘Son of the Mask’
Read everything I wrote about Dumb and Dumberer and multiply it by ten. This isn’t just a disappointing sequel, it is arguably the worst sequel ever made. The New York Post’s review of the movie says it all: “Parents who let their kids see this stinker should be brought up on abuse charges.” Indeed.
30 ‘Fletch Lives’
This was one of the first signs that Chevy Chase hadn’t just lost his fastball, but that his arm had fallen off while trying to throw any sort of ball. The first Fletch was cooler than cool, that wiseass who manages to stay chill and one step ahead of the game no matter what. This version of Fletch, though, is less cool and more, well, more Chevy Chase.
29 ‘Be Cool’
Get Shorty was hip and cool and funny, and captured the feel of Elmore Leonard’s writing like few other adaptations have. Be Cool… didn’t. It just doesn’t have the same life to it, and worse, what was hip and cool and funny in the first film just feels sort of corny here.
28 ‘The Odd Couple II’
This whole thing was just weird. It wasn’t like people were clamoring for a sequel to a movie that was almost 30 years old, and yet, it didn’t seem like that bad an idea, especially because Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau had ridiculously good chemistry and were just coming off their hit Grumpy Old Men franchise. And then the movie came out, and everyone realized that their first instinct was right. There’s just nothing here. It’s tired and sad, and somewhat morbid when you realize that both Lemon and Matthau had pretty much lost it by this point.
27 ‘Major League II’
The first movie was rough and raunchy, and felt like it captured the feel of a major league clubhouse. This felt like a Disneyfied attempt to recapture that feel, turning an R movie into a PG cornfest. Let’s just put it this way: Wesley Snipes wouldn’t even do this movie. Sure, Charlie Sheen came back, but whores and cocaine aren’t free.
26 ‘Superman III’
This is where things started going completely off the rails for ol’ Superman. Superman II was arguably the high point in the whole Superman canon, and so people were naturally excited for this one. But instead of Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and Superman fighting against General Zod and the gang, they got Richard Pryor as a computer geek and a fiendish plot involving synthetic kryptonite laced with tobacco. It was the ‘80s, what can I say?
25 ‘They Call Me Mr. Tibbs!’
This follow-up to the landmark In the Heat of the Night had huge shoes to fill, largely because it was important in a socio-political way that most films aren’t. And yet, when it came out, audiences were left watching a shoddy production that felt more like a lame TV movie of the week than a worthy successor to the first film. Sidney Poitier tries but there’s just nothing here.
24 ‘Arthur 2: On the Rocks’
Arthur was a surprise smash hit because it was about a rich dude who just wanted to get drunk and bang all the ladies. There is a lot of natural comedy in that, as well as a certain lurid appeal. Here is the synopsis for Arthur 2: “Arthur loses all of his money and his wife wants a baby.” Believe it or not, there is not that much appeal or humor in what is essentially the synopsis of every dude’s real life.
23 ‘The Fly II’
The Jeff Goldblum version of The Fly was surprisingly decent and got people’s hopes up about the sequel. But then it turned out to star Eric Stoltz and came off more like a SyFy original than a genuinely decent flick. Of course, there was no SyFy channel back then and so people were forced to pay real money to sit in a theater and watch this crap, which tends to erode whatever tolerance you might have for these kinds of movies. Trust me, it would change your opinion of Sharknado in a hurry.
22 ‘Beverly Hills Cop III’
Seven years after the last Beverly Hills Cop movie, and just as Eddie Murphy was starting his career free-fall, he went back to the well with Beverly Hills Cop III, which naturally got people excited. After all, it was a beloved franchise and marked one of the first times that everyone got fooled into saying “Eddie’s back!” And then they saw the movie and it ended up being about Eddie tangling with an evil security guard at a theme park. See you in a few years for comeback #168, Eddie.
21 ‘Star Trek V: The Final Frontier’
Following the huge success of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which is the most human and easily accessible of all the old Trek movies, the gang came back with this turd, which is less “human and accessible,” and more “new-agey and confused.” This was the point when everyone realized that the old cast needed to sit a few plays out.
20 ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’
Everyone was skeptical when Bruce Willis came back with Live Free or Die Hard after a long layoff, and even more skeptical when they found out it costarred Justin Long as his sidekick, but somehow, the whole thing worked. It was a fitting end for John McClane, but Willis just couldn’t leave well enough alone. And sadly, it turns out nobody wanted to watch a movie about McClane dealing with his annoying son. Shocking!
19 ‘Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines’
A good decade after T2 kicked everyone’s ass, old man Arnold went back to his robot roots and sadly disappointed everyone. It didn’t help that nobody could explain why the cybernetic killing machine played by Schwarzenegger had somehow aged into an old man, or that the filmmakers improbably managed to find an even more obnoxious actor to play John Connor than Edward Furlong in the thoroughly unlikable Nick Stahl.
18 ‘Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2’
The Blair Witch Project was cool and innovative, and most importantly, genuinely creepy. Since it was a horror movie, the terrible sequel was inevitable. But somehow, the filmmakers of this atrocity managed to disappoint and be awful even by the low standards set by the genre. Then again, if we knew the movie would star the future lead of Burn Notice, we probably would have collectively adjusted our expectations accordingly.
17 ‘More American Graffiti’
Even though much of the original cast returned for this sequel, the magic of the first just isn’t there. It doesn’t help that even the idea of a sequel was confusing given that the first movie ended with summations for each of the movie’s major characters letting us know what happened to them after they went their separate ways. Then again, this was executive produced by George Lucas, and let’s not pretend like he’s above this sort of pointless and shameless money grubbing. Just be happy Jar-Jar Binks wasn’t introduced as a fellow Vietnam vet.
16 ‘Staying Alive’
It made sense that producers would want to capitalize on the zeitgeist-capturing success of Saturday Night Fever. After all, that movie was like cultural lightning in a bottle. It made slightly less sense that they would wait until 1983 to do it, well after the ugly death of disco. Naturally, the film was ridiculous and disappointed everyone who still clung to some romantic vestige of the disco age. Then again, regardless of topic, a movie is pretty much bound to disappoint when it carries the following tagline: “Starring John Travolta and written and directed by Sylvester Stallone.” Yeah.
15 ‘Spider-Man 3’
Spider-Man 3 isn’t really horrible. It’s just sort mediocre, which is a real problem when you consider the absolutely massive hype that accompanied it after both the commercial and critical success of Spider-Man 2. In the end, the only thing you can really say about it is this: Peter Parker jazz-dancing. The rest of the movie could have been Citizen Kane and it wouldn’t have survived that scene.
14 ‘Quantum of Solace’
After Daniel Craig basically reinvented Bond for the 21st century in Casino Royale, it was fair to say that people were really, really excited for the film’s follow-up, which is one of the few Bond films to serve as a true sequel to the one that came before it. Unfortunately, the movie was a boring mess, and Bond went back into retirement for almost another half decade before Craig brought him back again.
13 ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’
The Indiana Jones franchise is one of the most popular of all time, and since it had been 20 years since the last one, the hype was out of control. Not even the reveal of the ridiculous name of the new movie could really slow it down, but then the movie came out, and people realized they were watching an old man bicker with Shia LaBeouf, which I’m pretty sure is actually a punishment in one of the nine circles of hell.
12 ‘Return of the Seven’
The badass cowboy samurai of The Magnificent Seven ride again, only not really, as Yul Brynner is the only one of them to actually drag himself back for this nonsense. Seeing the whole concept reduced to just another boring, conventional western is just sad to watch. No wonder Steve McQueen probably laughed when they called, hung up the phone and went back to boning a stewardess.
Aliens is probably the most beloved of all the Alien movies so it made sense that director David Fincher would honor it by pissing all over its characters. Wait… what? Yes, Fincher apparently decided that his vision for the series was more important than what had come before. The only problem was, well, his vision kinda sucked.
10 ‘Another 48 Hrs.’
In the first film, Eddie Murphy was a force of nature. Here, he was just, well, he was just the Eddie Murphy we have known and vaguely tolerated for the last 20 years. Whatever spark he had – or the first movie had – was gone here, and it’s not like a tired out old Nick Nolte was going to do anything to help make up for it.
9 ‘Rocky V’
AKA the one where Rocky loses all his money, gets brain damage and fights the dude who would get AIDS. Just read that again and I think you can figure out why people would be disappointed.
8 ‘The Matrix Reloaded’
In order to understand why this sequel was such a big disappointment, you have to understand that after The Matrix came out people were talking about it like it was the next Star Wars. So people were super-hyped for The Matrix Reloaded. Unfortunately, then they went and saw it and noticed that all the new-agey gibberish outweighed all of the cool stuff, and then sat back as their eyes glazed over and just waited for it to play itself out.
7 ‘Jaws 2’
One of the first movies to be shamelessly exploited, Jaws didn’t even manage to get one quality sequel before everyone got lazy and boring. This is little more than an uninspired rehash of the original and by this point, the shark – and its famous accompanying theme – had already become little more than a pop-culture punchline. It’s not the worst Jaws sequel, but it’s definitely the most disappointing.
6 ‘Batman & Robin’
Nipples on the bat suit, dudes and lady dudes. Nipples on the bat suit. There’s a long litany of reasons why this deserves to be ranked here – the fact that it ruined the franchise until the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale reboot, Arnold’s hilariously awful cheesy acting and one-liners, George Clooney inexplicably sucking as Batman, Alicia Silverstone existing – but the nipples on the bat suit pretty much sum the whole ridiculous thing up.
5 ‘Caddyshack II’
Why? That’s the only thing you’ll be able to ask yourself if you try to watch this movie, which gets rid of everything interesting or funny or good about the first movie, and by that I mean the cast, who completely carried the original. Everybody’s gone – Bill Murray, Rodney Dangerfield, Ted Knight, even lameass Michael O’Keefe – with the exception (naturally) of Chevy Chase. What’s left? You got me.
4 ‘Speed 2: Cruise Control’
What if we replace the bus with a cruise ship and Keanu Reeves with Jason Patric? Wait, where is everybody going?
3 ‘Exorcist II: The Heretic’
How do you follow up one of the scariest movies of all time? Well, you probably don’t want to make a boring movie involving therapy and a priest wandering through Africa investigating locusts, but that’s exactly what they did here. On the plus side, it did get Richard Burton work in between bouts of alcoholism, so there’s that.
2 ‘The Godfather Part III’
16 years after the second film in the series, which is only considered one of the greatest films ever made, Francis Ford Coppola decided to bring his saga to a grand, long overdue conclusion. You’re pretty much setting everyone up for disappointment with a scenario like that, and that’s exactly what happened here. It didn’t help that Robert Duvall was written out over money, and it really, really didn’t help that Coppola insisted on casting his amateur daughter in the key role of Mary, Michael’s daughter. It’s not a horrible movie, just fatally flawed, but when you’re responsible for being the final act in the greatest film saga ever made, that’s enough to disappoint everyone.
1 ‘Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace’
This wasn’t just the most hyped sequel of all time, it was the most hyped movie of all time. Nerds stood in line for days to get tickets to the midnight showing of this, and when they finally plopped down in their seats they were greeted by a shucking and jiving abomination named Jar-Jar Binks, perhaps the worst child actor in history, and a plot about space politics, all while Liam Neeson explained in front of a green screen that The Force was some sort of alien parasite. But hey, at least George Lucas sold some lunchboxes.
(Previously published on September 25, 2013.)
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